What do Costco, Google, and Wegman's have in common? More than you might think. All three successfully forge emotional connections with guests, earning them some of the highest Customer Engagement scores in their industries. But the key trait that all three share? They all go out of their way to recognize and reward employees.
In 2008, Fortune named Google the #1 place to work. This year, they still earned fourth place in that ranking. Costco enjoys high employee retention and customer engagement levels, partially because they pay 42% more than competitors. Additionally, Costco provides generous health benefits to its employees. And Wegman's customers are happy to see that their favorite high-end grocer treats employees well.
All three of these companies know a crucial secret ingredient in Customer Engagement: Employee Engagement. When your employees are passionate, your customers are more likely to be engaged. Treat your employees well, and they'll pass on their dedication to your brand to your customers.
Even if you can't afford to dole out jam-packed benefits packages, you can boost productivity and engagement through other forms of employee recognition. Education professionals have long known that positive reinforcement is one of the most powerful tools for behavior change. When you effectively provide employee recognition, you're communicating which tactics, actions, and approaches should be repeated.
Here are a few tips for providing employee recognition:
Be specific. Don't just throw out rewards because you want your employees to like you. Make sure you include specific language on why they're getting this recognition. This will encourage similar behavior from other employees, as well.
Be fair. Provide consistent recognition across all levels of your organization. Avoid favoritism, and be as predictable and logical as possible in distributing employee recognition.
Include everyone. Design your recognition so that all of your employees have the chance to show off and earn rewards.
Be timely. Don't wait months and months to give out recognition. Positive reinforcement is most effective when it's delivered right after the desired behavior. Be quick with your praise.
Be predictable.... Employees should understand why they did or did not get recognized. Rather than having managers subjectively select which employees should receive rewards, set up guidelines to allow employees to rate their own performance, even if management ultimately decides who earned recognition.
... But don't be boring. Employees will enjoy earning recognition no matter what, but don't let your program get stale. Mix up your recognitions, and surprise teams. This will motivate employees to put their best effort forth, even when no prizes are promised.
Employee recognition is a powerful tool for building Employee Engagement, which builds customer engagement. Companies that achieve high levels of engagement enjoy better profit margins and more stability.
Top photo by Terren.
Topic: Employee Experience
Posted on 04-15-2009